May 23, 2012
Copyright © 2012
Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.
USMA senior cadets prepare for graduation
WEST POINT – With graduation just three days away, about 1,000 West Point seniors are packing their belongings and saying farewell to friends and mentors they've made over the past four years at one of the nation's most prestigious campuses.
The grounds are rife with activity during this final week as visiting family members comb the school, posing for pictures in front of its many famous landmarks. Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point come from all over the country, but plenty of these soon-to-be second-lieutenants are homegrown.
Chloe Canavan is a native of Kingston; she is a language studies major concentrating in Mandarin and German, and sees herself going into international law or business. She said she grew attached to the idea of going to West Point in middle school, when she attended Army football games with her family, the seventh born of eight siblings.
The Kingston High School grad said it was a bit of a culture shock at first.
“You had to learn discipline real quick, the importance of physical fitness,” she said. Adjusting to the rules and regulations of the military academy during the first year was difficult.
Canavan will be going to Fort Gordon in Georgia for four months, where she will be training in communications technologies to lead the 311th Signal Command at Fort Shafter in Hawaii.
From Wallkill, Lee Wakeman will be graduating with a degree in philosophy. He will then undergo medical service and officer training in Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio before heading out to the First Infantry Division in Fort Riley, Kansas, where he will be in charge of a platoon of medics.
Wakeman called it the best and most challenging experience of his life.
A graduate of Chapel Field Christian High School in Pine Bush, Wakeman will be graduating in the top 10 percent in his class, but said he had difficulty becoming acclimated early.
“A big thing for me was, honestly, trusting in God. I’m a Christian. I really felt his calling to come here. I felt like he told me that I would be protected. I would be protected. He would be with me this whole way. I kept my faith through all the tough times that I’ve been through,” he said.
Wakeman joined Officers' Christian Fellowship, a military-wide organization, which he said has been a "tremendous place of growth" for him.
"I enjoyed my academy career here tremendously. Philosophy is a bit of a love for me, so I wrote a thesis this year, did really well with that and am proud to be graduating with a philosophy degree; it's given me an edge in communication and thinking," he said.
Wakeman, Canavan and the rest of their class will graduate Saturday, where Vice President of the United States Joe Biden will deliver the commencement address.
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